The Best Whiskey Sour Recipe
A Sour is not so much a drink as it is a concept. Lemon or lime juice, almost any liquor, and sugar—in proper proportion—form a Sour. Don’t even think about using a packaged mix for this cocktail. A simple but magical blend, the Sour was first made with brandy in the middle of the 19th century. Bartenders have flirted with and still have their occasional flings with numerous other base alcohols, but whiskey was the liquor of choice by the end of the 19th century, with rye on equal footing with bourbon. Bourbon is still favored by many, but blended whiskeys and Scotch have jockeyed for position. Add a dash of grenadine to a Whiskey Sour, and you have the sophisticated Ward Eight.
Always prepare Sours fresh. Here is a foolproof rule of thumb for making a perfect Sour every time: Mix 2 ounces of your chosen spirit with 1 teaspoon sugar and 3/4 ounce lemon or lime juice (the “sour” flavor), and shake with cracked ice. Substitute lime juice for lemon in a Scotch Sour. Shake a Sour well for a truly frothy drink, and serve it straight up in a cocktail glass, over the rocks in a hefty Old Fashioned glass, or in a Sour glass. Garnish with any assortment of seasonally fresh fruit.
The whiskey sour is one of the best classic cocktails. It’s easy to make, and the recipe is the base for the entire family of sour drinks. There are also a variety of adjustments you can make to ensure it suits your taste perfectly.
The Whiskey Sour
- A rocks glass
- 2 oz whiskey
- .75 oz lemon juice
- .75 oz simple syrup
- Orange slice and/or cherry for garnish
- Optional: one pasteurized egg white
- Remember how to make syrup? Just use equal parts warm water and white sugar, then stir until the sugar is dissolved. Now that you’ve done that (and let your syrup cool), add .75 ounce to your shaker.
- Once again, we’d like to emphasize the importance of fresh-squeezed juice. It’ll make a world of difference in every cocktail that calls for juice, and it isn’t hard to make. Now, squeeze at least one lemon. That should give you about 2 ounces of lemon juice. Put .75 of those ounces into your shaker.
- Could you use rye here? Sure, why not? But bourbon is traditional, and we prefer it. So take two ounces of your bourbon, and pour it into your shaker.
- For a Whiskey Sour especially, a strong shake is key. So grab that shaker, and have at it. You want those ice cubes bouncing from end to end, making a sound like Fred Astaire in a shipping container. (Disclaimer: don’t know what that sounds like.) Once you finish, pour your drink over ice in a rocks glass. If you shook hard enough, it should have a thick layer of foam on top (and, if you want, you can decorate that foam with a dash of bitters). Next, stick an orange slice and/or a quality preserved cherry on top for garnish, and you have a cocktail that will force people to acknowledge the power of both you and the Whiskey Sour.